May 1, 2011

Happy Beltaine!

May 1 is Beltaine, one of four major feasts of the Celtic calendar. Beltaine marks the end of the dark half of the year. Yay! It is also the traditional day of moving livestock to upper pastures, also called booleying. Read more about booleying here.

The Irish believe that Beltaine is a good time to start a project or hold a fair. It's considered a bad idea to let someone take fire (as in lighting a torch) from your house on Beltaine. This could give the person control over the people in the house.

Lighting bonfires on the eve of Beltaine (actually, the festivals always started at night) is long held. All fires were extinguished and the festival began when the king lit the first fire, which could be seen from a long distance because....well, there were no streetlights. This is apparently what got St. Patrick in trouble. He lit his Pascal fire before the king lit his Beltaine fire and God had to rescue Patrick and his followers by turning them into a herd of deer.

Welcome back, sun! We have missed you! :)

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